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An Indonesian court today abandoned the trial of ex-dictator Suharto after a medical team said he was too sick to face charges. He embezzled millions of dollars in public funds. It also immediately freed him from house arrest. This also triggered clashes outside the court between hundreds of angry protesters, police and supporters of Suharto, who pro-democracy forces drove from power in 1998 after 32 years in power.
In Washington, D.C., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday passed legislation which bans all U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. The committee passed the measure unanimously by voice vote. The bill now goes to the Senate floor. The legislation bans military cooperation with and assistance to the Indonesian armed forces until the president certifies certain conditions have been met by the Indonesian government and military, including safe return of refugees to East Timor and judicial accountability for military and militia members responsible for human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh and other parts of Indonesia.
Organizers insisted today that a new French aid flight to Baghdad will go ahead as planned this week in defiance of U.N. sanctions and despite pressures from the highest levels to cancel the operation. The leader of the charity, Children of the World, which is one of the project’s sponsors, said the aircraft will leave France for Baghdad tomorrow, a week after a first-aid flight to the Iraqi capital drew U.S. protests. Among those expected to be on the flight are two former U.N. officials: Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday.